Premier Christy Clark is indicating the province is well on its way to endorsing the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.
Speaking publicly for the first time since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced conditional approval for the project, Clark said the federal government is "very close" to meeting the five conditions necessary for B.C. government approval.
'A path to yes'
"I have said from the very beginning that the five conditions are a path to yes," said Clark, stating that the conditions could be met "much sooner" than the May 9 provincial election.
On Tuesday, Trudeau signed off on the Trans Mountain project which will see a twinning of the existing 1,150 kilometre pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to the Kinder Morgan terminal on Burrard Inlet in Burnaby.
Triple capacity, 7 times the tankers
The project will nearly triple the delivery capacity of oil products and diluted bitumen to 890,000 barrels a day and will increase oil tanker traffic in the Vancouver area from approximately five tankers per month to 34 per month.
Clark said her government still needed more answers and information from the feds on two specific issues.
"We still need to work out some details to make sure that British Columbia is getting its fair share of the jobs and economic benefits of this project," she said.
'We still need details'
"We still need some details on the oceans protection plan ... so we can be absolutely certain that our coast is protected."
The $1.5 billion oceans protection plan was announced earlier this month by the federal government after a tug boat ran aground near Bella Bella, spilling 100,000 litres of fuel into the ocean.
Cleanup efforts around that relatively small spill were roundly criticized as a failure, highlighting major flaws in oil spill response planning on B.C.'s coast.
A letter released by B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polack outlines some of the specific concerns and asks the federal government how it plans to "address the following gaps we identified," including:
- Ensure the Canadian Coast Guard adequately services the entirety of B.C.'s coast.
- Work with the U.S. to establish response regulation for spills crossing international borders.
- Consider lifting the ban on the use of alternative spill response measures, including dispersants and in situ burning.
- Federal funds for reimbursement of costs incurred in response and cleanup must be more readily available to the province, and provided in a timely manner.
Clark said she hopes the prime minister will come to the province to explain in person why the pipeline expansion is in the national interest.
"I think it's important that he make that argument here in British Columbia, where so many people are passionate on either side of the project," she said.